A PROPOSAL FOR USA 40 METER PHONE BAND EXPANSION
To: ARRL New England Division Director
From: CTRI Contest Group
Background: The successful elimination of the vast majority of foreign broadcast in the 40 meter segment of 7100 – 7200 has been a very welcome development for day-to-day SSB DXing and casual ragchews. There has been an unintended consequence to contesting however – not all good – which dominoes to impact negatively on non-contesters as well.
The most noticeable effect has been during DX phone contests. Previous to a couple of years ago, foreign broadcast dominated the 7100 – 7200 KHz segment so that split operation ruled the day. DX stations would call CQ below 7100 and listen for US stations in whatever holes they could locate above 7125. It was aggravating to say the least when the DX station would only listen on his own transmit frequency. This would promote violations by US stations who would call (and sometimes work) the DX station out-of-band or would say “listen up.” Both are violations. Some stations were known to send on CW ‘UP” or “USA” which sometimes worked.
With foreign broadcast vacating the 7100 – 7200 segment, split operation has for all intense and purposes has now gone away with the DX stations now working the USA “on frequency” between 7125 and 7200. This has created a new problem. With the big multi DX stations plus the big USA multi stations all calling CQ in the 75 KHz segment, there is virtually nowhere for the more modest and even well equipped USA station to find a free run frequency to work more modestly equipped DX stations. The band is incredibly overcrowded. It’s almost worse than when one had to contend with the broadcast stations. Seventy-five kilohertz is not nearly enough room to accommodate the activity.
Band Breakdown: Here is the breakdown of the percentage of band available for phone operation compared to the entire band available per license class. Note that it is understood that CW operation is permitted throughout the entire bands cited but the percentage is based on the amount of band where CW/digital is normally used.
80M E = 80%
A = 80%
G = 72.7 %
20M E = 57%
A = 58%
G = 50%
17M EAG = 60%
15M E = 55.6%
A = 56%
G = 50%
12M EAG = 58%
10M EAG = 57%
40 Meter Breakdown: Forty meters is a bit more complicated in that foreign broadcast still is a problem from 7200 to 7300. Here’s the percentage using the ratio as above. The Advanced ratio appears better than Extra only because their phone privilege is the same as Extra but they do not have access to the bottom 25 KHz for CW – thus the whole pie is smaller.
40M E = 58%
A = 63.6%
G = 55%
The rub comes during DX contesting because for the most part operation is below 7200 thus effectively eliminating 100 KHz of spectrum because of foreign broadcast. True, stations do try to sneak in between heterodynes of foreign broadcast stations with some success. Calculating a percentage of the mostly usable band – that is eliminating the top 100 KHz – the story is telling:
40M E = 37.5%
A = 42.8%
G = 20%
The modest to even well equipped Extra/Advanced Class USA station has a huge QRM obstacle to overcome with only 75 KHz of space to maneuver successfully. Actually USA Extra/Advanced Class stations may only operate LSB phone as low as 7128 to allow for sidebands to stay in the band. Unfortunately, not everyone understands this, as it is not unusual for a DX station in a phone DX contest to receive answers from US stations while calling CQ on say 7125. Oh for the days of ARRL Official Observers and FCC “pink slips” to invoke contest disqualification.
What’s the average of spectrum allocated to phone operation? It appears that using the 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meter bands as a guide, the percentage of spectrum allocated to phone operation is about 57 or 58 %. Eighty meters seems a bit of an anomaly as the percentage is considerably higher. Remember that it was quite a surprise when the FCC
expanded phone all the way down to 3600. Far less was proposed and expected.
Forty meters is the real problem especially during DX contests – exacerbated by foreign broadcast in the 7200 – 7300 segment.
What’s going on between 7100 and 7125? Extensive monitoring day-to day and during contests subjectively reveals that this segment is underutilized. Few DX stations operate there on a day-to-day basis. During DX phone contests, few DX stations operate there. During RTTY contests, most of the operation is below 7100. During CW DX contests, there is some activity above 7100 but mostly below.
The proposal: Expand USA phone operation to 7100 for Extras and Advanced. Forty meters will continue to be a QRM problem during contests no matter what. But expanding USA Extra and Advanced Class phone privileges to 7100 would be a significant improvement. Presumably General Class operators would then be allowed to operate from 7150 KHz instead of 7175 as presently. This is how the percentages would then break out with the first number based on the whole band and the second based on not considering the top 100 KHz of foreign broadcast dominated spectrum:
E = 66.6%/50%
A = 72.7%/57% (Not permitted to operate 7000 – 7025)
G = 66.6 %/40% (Not permitted to operate 7000 -7025)
Actually this club would not be adverse to allow General Class operators the same phone privileges as Extra and Advanced. There is still a 25 KHz incentive at the bottom of the band for CW/digital.
This is put forward as a proposal from the CTRI Contest Group to the ARRL New England Division Director for his appropriate motion to be made at the next ARRL Board or Executive Committee meeting.
Respectfully submitted as approved by its membership at its meeting of October 22, 2011 – CTRI Contest Group